How To Start An Online Ad Agency
The first time I started an agency it failed, but I learned from that failure, and in 2015 crossed the 7 figure line in my 2nd agency.
Starting an online ad agency requires no experience or startup capital, but it will require grit, persistence, and courage. You don’t even need a website to get started, you can use your Facebook profile. Let’s discuss getting your first 100 leads, and a case study that will make people want to hire you.
How do I start an online ad agency with no experience?
The logic that “you must have experience to start” means no one could ever start.
It’s completely ok to get started with no previous experience. I know this is true because I have done this myself.
Back in 2007, I got my start with Russell Brunson by being willing and aggressive. He took me on as an intern, my job was to write review articles as I studied courses he paid for.
I learned on the job. People have been doing this for centuries. You don’t need experience, you need grit, courage, and persistence. These are what will get you that first opportunity.
All you need is whatever social media profile you currently have. That can be Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or whatever. Something that allows you to add friends and post content.
You’ll want to be strategic here.
If you’re worried about sounding too business-like to your old high school buddies and family, you can add new friends to a list or even create a new profile.
You’ll want to add new friends who are business owners that might want to hire you. Don’t worry about a niche yet, you just need 1 client to allow you to learn on the job. You do not need this fancy plan that “scales to millions” (yet).
Just start adding business owners as friends. Try to make sure they are successful already, but not Elon Musk level successful. Just your average small and medium sized business owners.
Now, you’re going to start posting links to articles about advertising. Try to make sure they would be helpful to small and medium sized business owners. Many of our blog posts here would be a good start.
This will show these new business owner friends that you are knowledgeable about these topics.
Then, I suggest you start posting a few of your own tips 3x a week. Read an article or listen to a podcast, take notes, and tell people what you just learned.
This again will show all those new business owner friends how smart you are about these subjects. This is the same thing I did and landed my dream clients, even Dan Kennedy himself was a client of mine once (his GKIC company).
The person who books speakers for Dan Kennedy’s famous “Info Summit” stage, stumbled across my profile from searching the topics I was posting about. Liked what I was posting and asked me to speak on their stage.
It really is just that simple.
Justin Bieber was “found” the same way. He was posting songs to his YouTube profile when Usher found him and the rest is history.
I’m not saying this is all you ever need. This blog post isn’t called “all you ever need to start, build, and grow to millions as an online ad agency.” It would be 10,000+ words long for that.
This is just how to get started. How to land that first client or job, so you can learn on the job, make a case study, and leverage that for more clients.
How to get your first 100 client leads?
There’s a concept I learned called “Dream 100” that comes from a book, “The Ultimate Sales Machine” by Chet Holmes.
In the book he says most people are working too hard. He explains that they think they are selling to thousands and thousands of people, which ends up making your voice drown out in a sea of noise.
I’m paraphrasing hard here.
But it’s the truth.
If you try to market to thousands or millions of people at this early stage you’ll just be a shrimp in the ocean.
Instead, the dream 100 concept helps you focus all your marketing onto a group of just 100 people. Allowing you to become a big fish in a small pond, KING OF THE POND!
Here’s how it works…
- You’re going to spend 1 whole day doing research, but I bet it only takes you 2-3 hours.
Research 100 business owners that you would love to have as your clients. Keep the Elon Musks and Jeff Bezos out for now. But Frank Kern and Russell Brunson are just fine targets.
I’ve helped people get hired by both. That’s what we do at AdSkills, get people like you trained up and hired. That’s literally our business model.
- Ok, so start a Google Sheets spreadsheet or excel whichever you prefer. And start collecting links to social profiles of your dream 100.
Make a column at the top for name, website, social profile, email, 1st contact, 2nd contact, 3rd contact, won/lost.
That’s 8 columns.
- Fill in just the names and social profiles at first. Then, once you have that usually these business owners have their website links somewhere on their profile.
If not you might have to do a little Google detective work.
Once you have all 100 and their websites, now you are going to use a service called Hunter.io.
This tool lets you enter a website address and tells you all the emails associated with that website.
In just one day you’ve got your first 100 leads.
Now, you can reach out to them on social media and via email. DO NOT SPAM THEM!
Instead send them links to cool articles and podcast episodes that you like. Make sure they are on the topic of advertising though, keep it relevant.
Finish with a one sentence teaser “Hit me up if you want to talk about more ideas I have for your business.”
BLAMO! Now you’re building rapport with these leads. They are learning to know, like, and trust you. Plus, you’ve got a little worm on the end of your line that helps them reach out to you if interested.
Won’t be long now before you’ve got a paying gig. And still no website of your own or any investment cost other than time.
How much does it cost to start an online ad agency?
As I’ve already shown you up until now, there is no mandatory investment needed to start your online ad agency.
However, there are a few things you can invest in that will speed things up and make life a little easier.
I’m going to give you a $100, $500, and $1,000 investment plan. This will ensure anyone regardless of their budget has a good idea of what to spend their budget on.
The $100 Agency Start Up Plan
For $100 you really need to stick to the bare fundamentals. Don’t be sad if all you have is $100 though, it can still pay off majorly for you.
First, start an account with NameCheap.com by purchasing a .com domain from them. It can be your name or if you want, get clever with an agency name.
BrookeMedia.com is a fine example. That’s my last name with the word media. I have no clue if it’s available or in use. Just an example.
That’s about $10-$20 spent. It’ll be a major help though, because now you’ll be able to have a branded email instead of just [email protected] or worse @aol.com :man-facepalming:
Next you’ll want some website hosting. You can add it on via Namecheap, but I usually stick to just domains from them.
Instead try a really cheap starter plan on HostGator or BlueHost. Something that’s like $10/mo so you can afford 3-6mos easy. Now is not the time to buy fancy bulletproof or Wordpress optimized hosting.
Ok that’s about $30 spent with $30 more to cover the next 3 months billing. So we are at $60 and now we have a domain, branded email, and a website. You’re already starting to look pro, at just $60 spent.
What a great time to live as an entrepreneur.
Grab yourself a paid Google docs account. I think it’s called Google Workspace now but they change it sometimes. This will help you have all the software you need for presentations, PDFs, spreadsheets, file storage etc. This is also where you’ll set up your branded email account.
With the paid Google tools and your domain with hosting, you’ve officially got an “office in the cloud” setup. You’re ready to get to work.
Plus you likely have $10-$20 left over to go get some tacos. Enjoy them, you’ve earned it!
The $500 Agency Start Up Plan
Do all the same things as above, but this time we are going to go a little further.
SEMRush is a tad expensive, but you can cancel anytime. It’s important though and will let you do some powerful research, both in SEO and paid ads. For yourself and for clients. It’s the most important tool in my toolbox. It’s what helps me get clients which provides me way more money than it costs.
ActiveCampaign is what’s going to let you have opt-in forms on your website. This lets you build an email list, get leads, automate your follow up and more.
Next, hire a few Fiverr gigs to help you install Wordpress, install a premium theme, install FB ad pixels, install Google Tag Manager, and install Google Analytics. Should cost about $100 in total for all of this.
If you have any money left over, spend the rest on a good office chair. Sounds silly, but this job requires a lot of sitting. Especially in the early days and a good chair is going to make or break you.
With these upgrades, for under $500, you’ll not only look like a pro, but now able to do pro level work. You’re going to be able to research keywords, build automated marketing campaigns, and stay focused for hours.
The $1000 Agency Start Up Plan
Everything from above, but now you have $500 to spend on some marketing.
Use that new website you have to start your own blog. Write posts that breakdown famous companies marketing. For example, “How AirBNB Gets x Visitors a Month.”
That SEMRush account is going to pay off big time here. It’s going to let you see all of their top landing pages, keywords, traffic, and ads.
Now use your Facebook account to distribute that blog post as an ad for just $10/day for 7 days. That’s $70 per blog post x4 equals $280 and you have an entire month of visitors reading your blog.
Make sure you have retargeting setup since you placed that Facebook ad pixel on your website in the first $500. Then add an opt-in offer in the footer of your blog.
Something like “10 ads that made millions” like we use on our website. Except just look up 10 different ads from companies you know already make millions. Again SEMRush for the WIN! They will let you see the ads for these 10 companies.
Just take screenshots, write up a quick little PDF using your Google Docs account, and deliver it automagically using your ActiveCampaign account.
Now you’ve got traffic and leads.
Won’t be long now until you’re the next star in our industry. Stick to the plan, work the plan, and jump inside AdSkills so we can help you even more.
Now you have a plan for any budget, or start at just $100 with your Christmas money and work your way up to the $1,000 plan and beyond.
How to create a case study that will make clients want to hire you?
Your case study is like your hammer, if you were a carpenter. It’s the tool you will use not just daily, but all day long.
It’s the thing that’s going to make people want to hire you.
Do whatever you must in the early days to get yourself a good case study. That said, let’s talk about what makes a good case study first of all.
The average business needs more leads and customers. Knowing this, your case study should be about how to get more leads or customers.
How many is enough?
Most business owners would freak out to have another 1,000 leads or 100 customers. There’s your starting point.
Work for free if you have too, but build yourself just enough on the job training to gather a case study of how you helped someone get 1,000+ leads or 100+ customers.
In your case study the title is where it all starts. If your title sucks no one will want to even begin reading it.
To make your title sexy, you must make it relevant. Think about your dream 100 list, what is relevant to them? Are they software sellers? Then make sure your case study is about getting leads or sales from software sellers. If they are Shopify sellers stick to that. If they are T-shirt stores stick to that.
You get the point.
Then inside your case study you need 3 stories…
- What was the problem the customer you helped was facing? Why was this problem happening? What was it causing?
- What were the tactics you used to solve this problem? Why did you choose those tactics?
- What are the results after you implemented those tactics? How have these results helped your customer now?
Bonus points if you have an Apple computer and use their Pages software to create your case study. If you have a friend with an Apple computer or iPad ask them.
Pages let’s you create beautiful looking PDFs, but it’s ok if yours is just plain black and white also (Google docs). Doctors and scientists turn in plain black and white studies all the time.
Last thing, make sure you end your case study with a little blurb like “want results like this, email me at [email protected] to book a consult call.”
Now you should have a good title, 3 good stories, and published as a PDF. With a blurb for them to contact you.
Create a case study opt-in page on your website. Use ActiveCampaign to deliver it automagically.
SHABAMBO! You have an automated marketing machine that will capture leads for you, pitch them on your skills, and have THEM reaching out to you to get started.
Inside AdSkills we show you how to take this to the next level. We have recorded sales calls and a whole written pitch that I used to make millions with my ad agency.
Find out more here…
Is starting an online ad agency worth it?
You might be wondering…
If I’m selling courses now, why am I telling you to start an ad agency?
Well, for starters you found me :grin:
I’m just trying to help you on your journey. It’s also a lot easier to get started selling services first, establish your name, and then sell courses later. That’s what I’ve done.
Inside AdSkills we show you how to get 4 clients at $2,500 each. This comes out to $10,000/mo and that’s 6 figures per year.
So yes, I think it is worth it to start an online ad agency. Now is the best time ever also.
For the first time in history the Internet is now the biggest advertising medium on earth.
More money is spent on digital ads today than on TV, radio, or print.
You can get a piece of that pie.
I’ve just shown you how.
Last thing I want to do is leave you with this video. It’s one of our AdSkills students who was in your shoes and tells her story of how she started her first ad agency.
Grab some tissues, people have told us this video makes them cry! Her story is POWERFUL!